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FEEDFRONT

50

JUNE 2020 | ISSUE NO.

The official magazine for Affiliate Summit

Forces for Forces for CHANGE CHANGE ‘Meet the women who are transforming the face of affiliate marketing

MEET THE WOMEN WHO ARE TRANSFORMING THE FACE OF AFFILIATE MARKETING


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FEEDFRONT CONTENTS ISSUE 50 06/20 STAFF

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Co-Editors in Chief Missy Ward, Shawn Collins

Shawn Collins

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Editor’s note

AFFILIATE MARKETING

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Is bad affiliate traffic costing you money?

Covid19: Should I maintain my mobile app investments?

By Melissa Fitzsimmons

By Chloé Perrin

Co-Publishers Missy Ward, Shawn Collins Contributing Writers: Gabby Beckford Goldie Chan Melissa Fitzsimmons Josh Flynn Alexandra Forsch Michelle Held Nicole Kardell Anshu Khurana Julia Logan Lilia Metodieva Sarah Moshel Lauren Newman Amber Paul Chloe Perrin Klaudia Poltorak-Misiura Nicole Ron Melissa Salas Gulnaz Sharipova Elizabeth Smith Emma Smith Ami Spencer Lily Trevisanut Julie Van Ullen Julia Wild

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INSPIRING WOMEN IN THE AFFILIATE INDUSTRY

By Emma Smith

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Retailing online during Covid and economic recession By Elizabeth Smith & Josh Flynn

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The importance of relationships in affiliate marketing

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By Anshu Khurama

By Nicole Ron

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By Ami Spencer

By Goldie Chan

It’s time to diversify your affiliate business

Recommended affiliate marketing tactics

By Julie Van Ullen

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The impact of Covid-19 on affiliate marketing By Alexandra Forsch

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Adapting to new consumer behaviors By Amber Paul & Lily Trevisanut

Affiliate marketing crystal ball for the next year

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Magazine Coordinator Jamie Maw

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CONVERSION

Online chat: Customer service or sales channel?

By Klaudia Półtorak-Misiura & Gulnaz Sharipova

Graphic Design youngsmedia.productions

Articles in FeedFront Magazine are the opinions of the author and may not necessarily reflect the views of the magazine, or its owners. FeedFront Magazine always welcomes opinions of an opposite nature.

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Keep your team connected while working from home

SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETING

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Optimize your campaigns for profitability

26

My money’s on Sports Betting

Your greatest sales force since during Covid-19 By Melissa Salas

How to land on your feet after the crisis

SEARCH

By Nicole Kardell

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Covid-19 has changed the landscape of social for brands

By Julia Logan

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Gen Z: Keeping up with the social media generation

STRATEGY

By Gabby Beckford

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By Lauren Newman

By Lilia Metodieva

How to make millions from commerce content

By Julia Wild

Growth and solutions in Fintech

TECHNOLOGY & INNOVATION

© 2020 Affiliate Summit, Inc. and Individual Authors.

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How to build a Fintech rewards program By Sarah Moshel

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The economy crumbled. What can I do now? By Michelle Held

FeedFront | June 2020 | No. 50 | 3


@feedfront | www.feedfront.com

Shawn Collins @shawncollins

THE LONG GOODBYE FROM HOME When Affiliate Summit West 2020 wrapped up, none of us knew it could be the last time we’d ever see each other. By Shawn Collins On January 30, 2020, I boarded Southwest flight 1713 from Las Vegas to Austin. I woke up with an empty feeling. I always got this feeling as an Affiliate Summit ended, and I knew it would be a while before I saw all of these people that I’ve come to know and love. I missed them already. The night before, there was a beautiful sendoff at Toby Keith’s I Love This Bar & Grill with so many friends who became family in the time since Missy Ward and I started Affiliate Summit in 2003. My heart was full from that night, but there was a feeling of sadness as I thought about how some of these people wouldn’t be in NYC for Affiliate Summit East 2020. It hit me that I may well never see some of these people again. But I found solace in knowing I would still see a bunch of others. Well, that plan got COVID-19’d, didn’t it? That expected closure after this 17-year journey wasn’t meant to be, and I still have a lot of unspent hugs to give out at some future time and location. In the meantime, I smile about all of the shared struggles and successes and experiences across 50 Affiliate Summit events on three continents. The late nights and early mornings. I never did come down with “conference crud” like so many of you, unless it was just a really bad hangover all of this time. Building Affiliate Summit with Missy and all of you was the best thing I’ve ever done. All of you! We certainly didn’t get here alone. We never could have. From the very start, there were great people helping us stuff bags, carry boxes, and spread the word. So many people spoke and wrote words, shared ideas, stood with us, and supported us through all of these times. When competitors came after us; the Great Recession hit; people were needed to speak out against legislation that would harm the industry… you were there. You always were. A great big, dysfunctional, beautiful family. I wish I were going to see that family this July in New York City.

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There are so many little things that add up to a rich experience there each time. I’ll miss stocking up on my Diet Dr. Peppers at Duane Reade, serendipitously meeting people in the Marriott Marquis smoking area, having drinks in the Broadway Lounge and the Playwright Celtic Pub around the corner, hanging out with people for the first time in a while, the hotel decked out with Affiliate Summit signs and banners and check-in booths, walking through the Meet Market before it opens and getting butterflies, confusing which side to go to for an up or down escalator, heading to the Copacabana for Affiliate Ball, late-night street meat, looking out the window from my room to Times Square, seeing all of the people excitedly doing business together, catching a Yankees game, and then the goodbyes. So, I guess this is my goodbye. Actually, no. Let’s make this my “until I see you again.” This anonymous quote really resonates with me right now… “At some point in your childhood, you and your friends went outside to play together for the last time, and nobody knew it.” [FF] I miss y’all. Shawn is Co-CEO of Affiliate Summit and Co-Editor-in-Chief of FeedFront Magazine, and blogs at affiliatetip.com.


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AFFILIATE MARKETING

IS BAD AFFILIATE TRAFFIC COSTING YOU MONEY?

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You need to bring in traffic to turn a profit as an online merchant. Unleashing the power of affiliate marketing can obviously be a lucrative stream of revenue. However, is a high volume of affiliate traffic all it’s cracked up to be? By Melissa Fitzsimmons

When it comes to affiliate marketing, not all traffic is created equal. It’s important to distinguish between “quantity” and “quality” in terms of the potential sales your affiliates drive to your site. Being overly-fixated on the former, while ignoring the latter, could lead to a longterm loss of revenue.

Overperforming campaigns: If your average affiliate conversion rate is 10% and you have one outlier show 50% conversion, that should register as a red flag.

Incongruity between traffic and sales: If you’re paying for traffic and are seeing impressive numbers but no one is converting, that’s a sign of bad traffic.

Chargeback and fraud patterns: You may notice a sudden spike in month-to-month chargeback or fraud instances (hence why it’s important to closely monitor these stats).

The Negative Ramifications of Bad Traffic A bad actor posing as a legitimate affiliate may use deceitful advertising, or even engage in outright fraud. The fraudster might use tactics like cookie stuffing or write scripts to spoof traffic figures, or even resort to using stolen cardholder data to complete fraudulent transactions. The goal is to claim unearned commissions, regardless of the consequences for you. It’s an all-too-common practice that threatens to undermine the effectiveness of affiliate programs writ large. When the cardholders discover the abuse, they either demand a refund from the advertiser or file chargebacks to recover their funds. In either case, the business will lose sales revenue. With chargebacks, though, you’re also likely to lose any merchandise already shipped, and will be responsible for paying additional fees to cover the chargeback administration. Chargebacks build up over time, leading to higher overhead costs. They may even come to threaten your business’s sustainability if you come close to breaching chargeback thresholds established by card networks like Visa and Mastercard. The bottom line: you end up paying higher costs for less impressive results that may cause long-term damage to your business. So, how do you spot those bad affiliates? Some common signs of affiliate fraud include:

What Can You Do? Fortunately, there are some best practices you can employ to identify and stop affiliate fraud. First, as suggested above, you should monitor your campaigns closely. Watch for signs of abuse, and be proactive if you identify potential fraud red flags. It’s important to know your affiliates; check them out on social media, and ensure they are who they claim to be. Make a point of only working with trustworthy affiliates and networks. You can also preempt some bad actors by making your returns window shorter than your affiliate payment window. This delay will give you time to identify potential abuse and stop payments before you hand out unearned commissions. Finally, it’s important to take steps to mitigate your generalized chargeback risk. Review your policies and procedures carefully to identify any practices that might result in chargebacks. Eliminating affiliate fraud is a challenge, but it’s not an unavoidable cost of operating in this space. [FF]

Melissa Fitzsimmons is Affiliate Fraud Specialist at Chargebacks911.

FeedFront | June 2020 | No. 50


@feedfront | www.feedfront.com

COVID-19: SHOULD I MAINTAIN MY MOBILE APP INVESTMENTS?

While the crisis is negatively impacting certain app categories, it is creating opportunities for others. It is no surprise that Travel, Sport, Food & Drinks or Retail apps have been heavily impacted by the pandemic. The lockdown induces people to stay home and thus the incapacity to book hotels or flights, share rides, order at McDonalds or check the latest soccer results and bet on new matches, translates to no user engagement and thus negative ROI for the App developer. It is wise to pause media spend for those types of apps while taking the time to analyze past data, success or failure stories and learn from them to restart fresh with relevant KPIs. As an example, the Chinese domestic tourism market said it is forecasting to recover 70% of losses over the next six months after lifting lockdown measures, which means no time to rest! On the other hand, confinement is synonymous with growth perspectives for most apps: according to an Appsflyer survey, since the beginning of the crisis, Worldwide in-app revenues have increased by 70% on Entertainment apps, 30% on Fintech, 35% on Casual Games and Social Casino apps, 25% on Shopping. Not to mention: Business, Education, Telemedicine, and Social Media apps that are booming...and users are more engaged than ever, spending more time on their smartphone! As certain budgets have been paused, it created additional available traffic as well as less competition on the bids. A decrease of the CPM prices has been registered on the market, up to 50% less in certain geos like the US. To address this increased reach, Facebook and DSPs will prioritize app campaigns based on their CTR% and CR% metrics. This is why it is very important to work on: appealing creatives (taking the time to do A/B testing), App Store optimization to improve app ranking and organic downloads, user’s flow amelioration, etc. Now that you understand the Covid-19 equation as: More

traffic + Less competition = Perfect timing to invest, the real question is how to invest your mobile user acquisition budget? Social media should be one of the first levels, allowing a better ROI and stronger reach than ever before (+50% of Facebook usage in countries strongly hit by the virus), then exploring new booming social channels. Let’s take Tiktok as an example, its US unique visitor count rose 48.3% from January to March, people went crazy over it. Tiktok is not as competitive while still offering a large audience reach, so now is the perfect time to invest! Twitch has also grown its users’ viewership by 31% over the covid period, offering a good targeted audience for gaming app developers. Then ad network traffic will allow acquisition of incremental users at a risk-free cost (CPI or CPA). Make sure to carefully select the ones proposing a strong optimization strategy and fraud control to maximize the results. Opportunities are huge. Expertise will be necessary to accentuate profitability levels, face the competition, and be ready for the expected mobile app spending to double by 2024. [FF]

Chloé is the cofounder of Dreamin; a leader in Worldwide app user acquisition thanks to their optimization and anti-fraud technology. FeedFront | June 2020 | No. 50

AFFILIATE MARKETING

As mobile users’ behaviors have been drastically affected by the confinement measures experienced by half of the world, marketers wonder: is it relevant to pursue a user acquisition strategy? By Chloé Perrin

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AFFILIATE MARKETING

KEEP YOUR TEAM CONNECTED WHILE WORKING FROM HOME The last few months have seen radical shifts in ways of working for businesses across many industries. By Klaudia Półtorak-Misiura and Gulnaz Sharipova

Trends that were gaining momentum for some time, such as remote working, have become a necessity to remain open for business. Few organizations were ready to change their way of working overnight, and many are still adapting. In this article, we share how we are adapting and ensuring our team remains creative and connected in this protracted period of uncertainty.

earlier than they might if they were commuting across the city. For others, it means taking an extended break in the middle of the day to practice yoga or take a class, for example. Life in lockdown is stressful in so many ways. We want to ensure that our work isn’t an additional source of stress. We have found that giving our team, and ourselves, the space to work how and when is most fruitful is the best way to achieve our team’s objectives.

Don’t Forget to Have Fun Communication, Communication, Communication As a team made up entirely of Millennials and Gen Z’s, we carry out much of our lives online. However, we still had to make adjustments to our daily ways of working beyond using video calls for our meetings. As team leaders, we have made ourselves more available for spontaneous 1-2-1s so that any issues, challenges or obstacles can be dealt with as soon as they emerge. We give honest feedback, and we give it often. We expect the same from our team members too. Communication, like respect, is a two-way street. We boosted communication between team members by introducing a daily good morning meeting. This has the additional benefit of allowing us to do a quick temperature check and evaluate if any of our team members might need additional support on a personal, as well as a professional, level.

Our team is incredibly close. We love spending time together outside of working hours, whether that means going for drinks, playing games or eating food together. We continue to keep that closeness at the heart of the way we work. For example, our pet cats and dogs join our video calls, whether we invited them or not. It often makes for a more relaxed and fun atmosphere in our catch-ups. We continue to play games together through popular apps such as HouseParty. We often gather on Fridays for an ‘office’ beer and a few rounds of Trivia. Maintaining that sense of fun and positive team spirit is the glue that holds us all together. [FF]

Autonomy: The Key to Productivity and Engagement Working from home when you aren’t used to it has many challenges, such as having limited workspace or having to share that space with housemates or loved ones. With so many new constraints placed upon us in our personal lives, we want to help balance that by giving as much freedom and autonomy to our team as possible. During this time, we are putting more emphasis on reaching our mutually agreed goals rather than focusing on outdated topdown modes such as fixed hours of work or time spent sitting at a computer. For some colleagues, this means they start much

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Klaudia Półtorak-Misiura is Head of Region CEE at Savings United and Gulnaz Sharipova is Onpage Lead CEE at Savings United. FeedFront | June 2020 | No. 50


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CONVERSION

ONLINE CHAT: CUSTOMER SERVICE OR SALES CHANNEL? Customers love online chat, but use it for purchasing decisions much more than most retailers realize. Here are three real-life examples to learn from. By Emma Smith

You may think your website’s live chat function is a pure customer service channel, but it’s not. In reality, a staggering 60% of live chat users are considering a purchase, and open chat windows as part of their purchasing decision. This creates challenges for retailers: should customer service agents identify and close sales, or simply answer questions quickly? Adding to the confusion, customers are not always clear about their intentions. Potential sales opportunities can be concealed by confusing questions or odd word choices. My company, Envolve Tech, deals with this problem every day. We design A.I.-powered digital sales assistants to analyze chat enquiries, spot sales opportunities, and close them. Here are three real-life examples of sales which could easily have been missed.

1) Non-sales question Customers normally select a purchase before asking about delivery details, but they sometimes do the opposite. A great example is one visitor to a fashion site who began by asking “Who will deliver my parcel?” This sounds like a pure customer service enquiry, and it would be hard to fault an agent who failed to see it as anything more. In this instance, our digital sales assistant provided a list of couriers, but then kept the customer in the sales funnel. This was the right decision, as the follow-up question was: “What maxi dresses do you have?” The assistant then provided a carousel of 9 maxi dresses. The customer kept browsing, and bought one!

“Face cream” was not a menu option because it is a catch-all term. Ask five people to define it, and you’ll get five different answers. Not being a person, however, the digital sales assistant presented a range of products, all of which could be considered face creams. It turns out the customer wanted an eye-cream (eyes are part of the face, right?) After clicking through the carousel they purchased a soothing eye-makeup remover.

3) Questions with unusual terminology Customers sometimes use non-standard words. This leads to search enquiries with no results, and awkward chat conversations. A customer on an interior design site asked, “Can you tell me if you do match pots of your paint range?” “Match pot” is not a product listed on the site and the search returns no results. It turns out to be an uncommonly used term for a “tester pot” or “paint sample.” Our digital sales assistant detects synonyms, and understood. The customer was served up with a range of 50ml samples to choose from, and made a purchase.

Conclusion: Chat is a great way to engage directly with your customers, but it should always be treated as a sales opportunity. Using chat only for customer service not only loses sales, but ignores what your customers really want.. [FF]

2) Questions with no straightforward answer “Do you sell face cream?” asked one visitor to a beauty product website. An obvious “Yes,” right? Not so fast! The site menu listed Face Exfoliants, Face Masques, and Face Moisturisers under Face & Body, but not “face cream.”

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Emma Smith is CEO of Envolve Tech, a supplier of digital sales assistants to online retailers. FeedFront | June 2020 | No. 50


@feedfront | www.feedfront.com

RETAILING ONLINE DURING COVID AND ECONOMIC RECESSION

The impact of Coronavirus will be felt for some time, with economic hardship and continued aversion to crowded spaces. The Global Financial Crisis and SARS outbreak had a lasting impact on customer behaviour retailers must again plan accordingly. eCommerce is booming, physical stores are closed, and more people are online. Even as stores start to reopen, their role has changed. Online orders fulfilled from, or picked up, in-store will become the new normal. Physical retail contracted 35% more than online retail during the GFC. This time the figures will be more extreme. Online is the new dominant storefront and retailers must adapt fast.

(Item availability, stock availability) • Pre-Covid 87% of shopping journeys started online, this is now even higher. Online item interaction data can be localised and itemised (down to an attribute or utility level) for inventory allocation optimisation, stock depth planning and item availability that always meets customer demand. • Buy Online, Pick Up In-Store is already up 60% since lockdown began. Ensuring relevant stock in specific stores will cut down on fulfilment times and avoid lost sales due to out-of-stocks.

#2 - Get Smart on Pricing

Smart businesses are now creating or deepening their footholds. Research proves that Progressive companies that respond to customer needs, by striking a delicate balance between cutting costs on less relevant assets today and by investing intelligently to grow tomorrow, will be the most profitable emerging from recession. But how can you cut costs and invest in the best way possible, and how can machine learning help?

(Increase sales, cash-on-hand and earnings with intelligent, dynamic pricing) • Opt for SKU-level pricing intelligence over blanket discounting. Understand item popularity, stock levels, competitor pricing and margin requirements to develop dynamic pricing models. • Pull customers along the long-tail with lower prices. Long-tail items cost less so you can charge less, while harnessing the downsell opportunity.

Changing Your Mindset

#3 - Help Me Find It

Physical retailers are physically constrained. Inventory is selected based on limited real estate and issues with stock depth result in frequent out-of-stocks. The opportunity for online retailers lies in the ability to stock a limitless variety of products. This long-tail of items can drive more than double the sales volume of the best-selling items available in physical stores.

(Item discovery and customer satisfaction) • Just as lower prices can entice customers down the longtail, recommendation engines drive them to products they may not have otherwise found. • Especially where the supply chain is constrained, help customers discover alternative items to suit their needs.

Three Rules

The GFC, SARS and now trends in COVID-19 equip us with the knowledge to plan ahead and crisis-proof our businesses. Making the most of online will be key to acquiring market share in this downturn. Machine learning can help, identifying where you will see the biggest ROI, accurately and at scale. [FF]

Companies that Thrive

There are three rules to meeting customer needs online during COVID-19 and Economic Recession.

#1 - Make Everything Available

CONVERSION

Using customer needs to filter investment and cost-cutting decisions is key to thriving during a downturn. We explain how retailers can achieve this online. By Elizabeth Smith and Josh Flynn.

In a Nutshell

Elizabeth Smith is Head of Account Management at Particular Audience, a personalisation platform with Amazonian power and scope. FeedFront | June 2020 | No. 50

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INSPIRING WOMEN IN THE AFFILIATE INDUSTRY

@feedfront | www.feedfront.com

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INSPIRING WOMEN IN THE AFFILIATE INDUSTRY The list of inspring women in affiliate marketing is as long as it is impressive. We’ve interviewed some of the women who are making a difference and evolving the industry.

THE IMPORTANCE OF RELATIONSHIPS IN AFFILIATE MARKETING Julie Van Ullen, Managing Director, North America at Rakuten Advertising on relationships in business being tested during COVID-19.

What made you want to be part of affiliate marketing? I’ve spent the better part of 20 years in the programmatic space, using data to make display, digital video, and even television more automated and audience-based. While that journey was incredibly thrilling to be a part of, one of the pieces that sometimes got missed along the way is the important preservation of relationship and symbiosis between advertisers, publishers, and the consumer. The most important and interesting thing to me about the affiliate marketing industry is how relationship-based it continues to be. It’s a partnership between advertisers and publishers to provide value to the consumer. Whether that comes in the form of an offer, a recommendation, a demo, a sample, or content. I joined this industry to use all the great lessons I learned on how to use data to be more effective and efficient with marketing dollars as well as creating a valuable, personalized experience for the consumer. It can be done without disintermediation, commoditization, or creepiness…and we’re doing just that as we evolve the Affiliate channel to be more data-driven and personalized. How has affiliate marketing changed over the past few years? FeedFront | June 2020 | No. 50

The most meaningful changes I’ve seen are two-fold. The first is the influx of influencers and content publishers that have allowed advertisers to diversify their programs to include both upper and lower funnel consumer touchpoints. This has granted us far greater insight into the holistic consumer journey and the important impact that the affiliate channel holistically has on conversions. This has given way to other important advancements in how advertisers incentivize their publisher partners, including multi-touch commissioning strategies. Having spent many years working with media publishers, I’m thrilled to see them diversifying away from display predominant monetization strategies to opening up sites and channels to work with advertisers in more of a CPA fashion. The second biggest change is the move to use both dynamic commissioning and personalized offers to better align publisher incentives with the actual business objectives of a brand or retailer. For instance, dynamic commissioning allows advertisers to offer different commission rates for varying product categories based on margin, inventory, etc. as well as align commissioning strategies to their CRM segments. Additionally, being able to both provide different offers to and commission publisher partners differently on a new

to file customer verses an already loyal one is a fundamental shift in how we are leveraging data to execute affiliate campaigns. How will the COVID-19 impact on the industry in the long run? That’s a question for the ages, isn’t it? I would say we’ve learned a lot of lessons in a short time. In general, affiliate has fared well, given the advertisers have stock and distribution, as one of the only paid channels that remains funded, given its direct link to outcomes. The industry has been on a path for a while now to move away from vanity metrics and tie all spend back to sales. Given the increase in upper funnel publishers mixed with the eventual death of the cookie, I think advertisers are looking at the affiliate channel with increased excitement and vigor with regard to how it can grow their brand penetration and sale. I would also say that with an increase in shopping online, brands that would otherwise rely heavily on an in-store experience are having to get creative. Hair color, cosmetics, even mattress companies have had to figure out ways to engage consumers and create trust – some solutions include more product videos, better virtual shopping experiences in-app, and a heavy shift to sampling strategies. There was already a shift for more traditional brands to explore direct-to-consumer avenues and product lines and I think this moment is only serving to expedite that interest. As well as other more nascent consumer trends like buy online and pickup in store that have boomed in a time when two-day delivery is an impossibility. We’re witness to the creation and reinforcement of new


@feedfront | www.feedfront.com

What are your expectations for the industry within the next 12 months? As the supply chain begins to recover we will see advertisers who paused or limited their affiliate programs come back full force and let’s be clear, people are shopping. Our data shows that the week ending 4/18 ecom retail sales were up 74% YoY. But while people are shopping, the state of the economy and the job market will have people looking for value. The affiliate channel will be a brilliant place to bring said value to consumers, especially as we look forward to the holiday season. What do you see as the main challenges affiliates are going to have to overcome this year? Affiliate publishers, who range in definition from influencers (big and micro), to content publishers, to loyalty/ coupon will all need to evolve to meet the changing demands of advertisers. Advertisers want to be able to incentivize their publishers according to their business objectives as well as have the ability to serve the right/different offer to the right consumer at the right time. This is going to require technical advancements on behalf of the publisher community to share and match data, shift to more dynamic ad models vs. static HTML, and consider how we can evolve away from a last touch measurement methodology to help advertisers compensate all parties helping to drive a conversion. We work with over 150,000 publishers and they run the gamut in terms of preparedness for a data-driven affiliate world and I think the big winners will be those who find the right path for their business to adapt to this inevitable future. What stand out thing have you seen a brand do in affiliate marketing which you would recommend to others? There are a number of brands who have begun working with us in a model called Accelerate, which effectively is a fullymanaged model that once an agreed upon list of publishers is set and we agree on

success metrics, we run the show. We front the media spend and everything; a risk/reward model of sorts. The beauty of this model is that what we’re great at as a network sitting between advertisers and publishers is that we can recruit new partners quickly and adjust strategies in real time, using data and machine learning that supercharges sales…not to mention frees up resources for the advertiser to use in other capacities. We’ve seen a tremendous amount of success and significant performance increases across the board for our Accelerate partners, in many cases exceeding 50% YoY revenue growth. And while it certainly takes a level of trust in us as an extension of the brands, it is paying off in spade for those who are interested in working in this new way. What stand out thing have you seen an affiliate do which you would recommend to others? Especially during COVID-19, as content publishers have seen a dramatic increase in viewership, I’ve seen a number proactively reaching out to advertisers to brainstorm on more bespoke activations they can do together. I think this is brilliant and should be something we do more and, as the network, we are happy to help facilitate those conversations. I have also seen some loyalty/coupon sites contemplating a commission sharing program with more upper funnel publishers, which I find super interesting and would be of great value to their advertiser partners.

faced with moments that will make or break trust with your clients and partners; COVID-19 is actually a great example of such a moment. Sometimes the right path or decision is not in the best interest of revenue or even partnership. I’m most proud of having made what I believe to be the truly right decision for all parties involved at every critical juncture and fundamentally believe that it has awarded me the ability to rise quickly in my career with the help of a trusted through line of clients, partners, and colleagues. What’s your advice to women just starting out in affiliate marketing? Stay true to yourself, stay true to your trusted contacts and clients (this is a small industry), learn as much as you can (there’s power in knowing more than the next guy or gal), make connections and build your personal brand from the start, find a good mentor (or two) – there will be distinct challenges you face and it’s vital to have a sounding board. Always be humble but shoot for the stars. Julie Van Ullen is Managing Director, North America at Rakuten Advertising.

INSPIRING WOMEN IN THE AFFILIATE INDUSTRY

consumer behaviors that will no doubt remain and continue to evolve into the brave new world.

What are the most important personal qualities to being successful in digital marketing? I think success comes from many of the same attributes no matter how you cut it: honesty, integrity, curiosity, a desire to both learn and educate, with a dash of good humor. What are you especially proud of during your career? I’m most proud of the trusted relationships I’ve built along the way. In any position and with any company, you’re

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INSPIRING WOMEN IN THE AFFILIATE INDUSTRY

@feedfront | www.feedfront.com

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IT’S TIME TO DIVERSIFY YOUR AFFILIATE BUSINESS Anshu Khurana, SVP of Partnerships at Partnerize, on challenges in the coming year.

What made you want to be part of affiliate marketing? I believe affiliate and partner marketing will be an even more important component of a brand’s go-to-market strategy in the months and years ahead. These days, large consumer brands often drive 20%+ of total sales from performance partnerships, and I am convinced that this figure will grow to 30% in the future. Further, business partnerships have long been a passion for me. Partnerships are critical to any company’s success. I have seen that all along in my career - at Microsoft, Facebook etc. In certain verticals like travel, partner marketing tends to be a major growth driver. Having spent years working in the media business, I have long recognized the dynamics of this marketing channel and the untapped potential for technology to make it more accountable and strategically driven. While at Microsoft and Facebook I participated in the massive transformation of the media business from IO-driven to programmatic, and I think we are in the early stages of the same sort of transformation in partnership and affiliate. Technology, insights, data and control and optimization are the driving forces of growth and change in partnership. Brands are looking to take control and use this channel to drive even better results. CMOs are leaning into this channel and there is a growing desire to use datadriven principles to integrate partnership together with other channels. How will the COVID-19 situation impact the industry in the long run? Our industry has proven to be very nimble. Smart, savvy publishers and brands moved quickly and made changes to their strategy and tactics. We saw more flexibility in how brands and pubs came together to work. Trends like relaxed minimums and tenancy FeedFront | June 2020 | No. 50

requirements, and even special offers for essential workers in the UK and other markets, in which brands and publishers came together to deliver better offers for these heroes. Stay at home rules and temporary store closures also forced many brands to accelerate their marketing efforts online. I believe this is valuable because too many “brick and click” retailers have lost share to the largest pure-play and multichannel providers who invested heavily in digital.

“Change is the only constant, and embracing and pushing for change before the market forces you is the key to brand and career success” Finally, one great development is that more and more brands are connecting directly and regularly with their largest partners. Direct connections enable better information sharing and ensure both sides benefit from the counsel and perspective of others. What are your expectations for the industry within the next 12 months? While sales in some categories have flagged, especially in travel, I believe that we are at an inflection point and that sectors like retail, finance, and subscriptions will grow strongly in the second half. It stands to reason that brands will invest more in performance marketing even in an era of more limited marketing

resources. I also believe that the airline and hospitality businesses will recover some significant ground, particularly in domestic travel. Beyond those basic trends, I believe we will see more adoption of data-driven marketing principles across affiliate. Brands will need more automation insights and control - features like micro commissioning on certain routes/ destinations etc will become even more important. I also expect that content partners will perform very well throughout the coming months as more and more brands recognize that performance-based buying is the prudent way to spend awareness and brand building resources. What do you see as the main challenges affiliates are going to have to overcome this year? Travel will take a while to get back to where it was before COVID-19. It’s no secret that dramatic changes in the travel business impact both the leading travel brands and OTAs as well as almost all top partners; travel, after all, has long been a huge revenue driver for the channel. To address any gaps in revenue, affiliates will need to diversify their brand partners and categories. My team is working very hard to connect partners with more brands and categories that are spending to help everyone sell more and earn more. Partners that have historically specialized in a single category, like travel, would do well to consider how they may supplement their revenue with sales to other verticals. What stand out thing have you seen a brand do in affiliate marketing which you would recommend to others? I am most impressed by how some leading brands have actively recruited new


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What are you especially proud of during your career? I have always fought for what I believe are the right decisions. I haven’t always won, and I haven’t always been right. And I am happy to concede when someone else has proven that their POV makes more sense. But I believe organizations work best when people have strong points of view and advocate for them in productive ways. That’s about having commitment and passion every day. If you cannot or will not advocate for what you believe in, you are in the wrong place.

What stand out thing have you seen an affiliate do which you would recommend to others? I’d focus on two. First, some of the largest partners in traditional categories like cashback and coupons have worked hard to make it easier to work with them. They have scrutinized minimums, tenancy, time commitments, etc. so as to relax standards and sign up new, scalable brand partners where there is a good chance of cultivating major new long term relationships. I’ve also been impressed by how content partners are initiating new relationships by showing the kinds of quality, bespoke experiences they are uniquely capable of delivering. I believe that these will become very popular in the months ahead as brands look to reduce risk in “awareness” building.

What’s your advice to women just starting out in affiliate marketing? I am reminded here of two key lessons that have been important to my career

What are the most important personal qualities to being successful in digital marketing? I believe the keys are innovation and learning mindset. In my career I have seen massive industry transformation, from the days of TV and print dominance to the explosion of digital media, to the advent of adtech to social and now partnerships as core elements of a brand marketing program. Change is the only constant, and embracing and pushing for change before the market forces you is the key to brand and career success. At Facebook, we were constantly reminding ourselves that everything that was working could become outdated very quickly, and that constant innovation is critical.

progression and success: “What would you do if you weren’t afraid?” That’s what Sheryl Sandberg pushed everyone at Facebook to live by. Be confident and don’t hold back ideas or operate from fear. Keep your thinking well outside of the box. Constantly push the envelope versus clinging to what’s being done for decades. “It’s about people as much as tech.” People and connection are arguably as important as technology today. Further, I believe that women have a huge knack for balancing the human side with the technology side. It’s a key strength for us. Own it! Anshu Khurana is SVP of Partnerships at Partnerize.

“People and connection are arguably as important as technology today. Further, I believe that women have a huge knack for balancing the human side with the technology side. It’s a key strength for us. Own it!”

INSPIRING WOMEN IN THE AFFILIATE INDUSTRY

partners to their programs, and worked hard to be good partners by paying on time, responding to requests, sharing more information, etc. In challenging and uncertain time periods we have often seen that the brands that stay focused on what works, such as smarter commissioning, data-driven partner recruitment, test-and-learn, and strong business ethics are the long-term winners. In fact we are seeing that some of the bold brands are looking at this opportunity to gain market share versus retracting which is exciting!

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INSPIRING WOMEN IN THE AFFILIATE INDUSTRY

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RECOMMENDED AFFILIATE MARKETING TACTICS Nicole Ron of CJ Affiliate on good affiliate marketing methods used by brands and affiliates.

“Having been in this space for nearly 13 years, I’m confident that the industry will continue to align with consumer interests and that new innovations will continue to propel the industry forward.” FeedFront | June 2020 | No. 50

What made you want to be part of affiliate marketing? My now-husband recruited me into affiliate in 2007. Prior to joining the affiliate industry, I was a corporate and leisure travel agent. I wanted to land somewhere that would allow me to begin a career that would challenge me and offer the opportunity to continuously learn. My husband was a software engineer at CJ Affiliate and spoke highly of the company, clients and industry so it was an easy switch! Fun fact: he used a portion of the referral bonus he received to take me out to a celebratory dinner for landing a new job!

How has affiliate marketing changed over the past few years? Affiliate is an ever-evolving, highlyaccountable channel and this evolution is driven by changes in consumer behavior and demand. This unique value has continued to pique the interest of marketing leaders across the globe with Affiliate Marketing becoming an important, ROAS channel leader and ever-growing part of the marketing mix. With increased investment always comes a need for increased visibility. With rich and varied consumer and transaction-level data, the channel has been able to adapt a data-driven approach to showcasing the lifetime value that publisher partners bring to consumers and brands – all in a privacy-by-design fashion. We’ve also continued to see an increased need for cross-device and cross-channel tracking and analytics to truly understand the full picture of consumer engagement. The desire to reach consumers earlier in their shopping journeys has welcomed more influencers and content commerce affiliates into the channel as they seek to develop relationships with more brands. We’ve also seen publishers bridge the gap between digital and offline marketing by leveraging the channel’s performancebased model in-store, in-app and in callcentre based programs. Consumer demand for greater transparency into data usage for marketing efforts has also emerged and has resulted in new regulations such as GDPR, CCPA and other regional privacy laws. While the vast majority of the affiliate space has always handled consumer data in a privacy-compliant manner, browsers have re-evaluated their role in tracking. This shift has prompted changes in digital tracking that requires less reliance on


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How will the COVID-19 impact the industry in the long run? I believe that there are several impacts that we will see. First, with social distancing measures in place and challenges with local supply for basic needs, all consumers have had to turn their attention online to fulfil their needs. This has forced a fundamental shift in consumer behavior that will forever change how society shops. While we will see some consumers return to offline options once social distancing restrictions are lifted, many consumers will continue to use digital services that they were introduced to or became accustomed to during this period of time. Additionally, as we saw during and after the 2008 recession, consumers will continue to be heavily offer-driven for the foreseeable future. Consumers become more price-sensitive during times of uncertainty and have a greater understanding of the types of offers that brands can make available. Because of this, they become more selective and are willing to wait for richer offers or consider brands outside of their typical consideration set when making a purchase. Consumers will continue to be highly attuned to where their needs are repeatedly met and this is a chance to create loyal, long-term relationships with shoppers. Brands who lean-into leveraging affiliate as an extremely cost-effective acquisition channel will continue to see a long term up-side. What are your expectations for the industry within the next 12 months? The beauty of our industry is our alignment with consumer-need and our ability to adapt quickly. While there will be a lot of market volatility, I expect affiliate to become an even larger and more integral part of the marketing mix for brands due to the high-level of accountability of the channel. Even with the current global economic headwinds, affiliate sees minimal pull-back on channel investment, and in many cases, receives

increased investment as the channel drives substantial growth and value for brands. What do you see as the main challenges affiliates are going to have to overcome this year? There will continue to be economic volatility throughout the remainder of the year which will require continued hyperawareness of shifts in trends, program offerings and campaigns. This will affect what are traditionally peak shopping times (ex. Mother’s day, Father’s day, graduation, summer vacations, back to school and more). That said, adaptation is in the DNA of this industry and I’m confident that we’ll continue to meet these challenges with creative solutions. These changes don’t necessarily translate to revenue declines; they just require a different approach. With privacy regulations and browser changes continuing, integrations will also

“Take your seat at the table and don’t be afraid to speak up. This is a wonderful industry that welcomes fresh perspectives and fosters growth.” continue to evolve. The great news is that these integration updates will provide more reliable and robust tracking and visibility for stronger partnerships.

Our publisher partners have done an immense amount of work to meet customers where they are – from reworking their content or home pages to feature the most relevant brands/ products/services, shifting focus on different promotional methods, making donations to local/national organizations, and supplementing consumer offers with their own revenue. Our publishers have gone above and beyond to continue to adapt and provide value to consumers and brands. What are the most important personal qualities to being successful in digital marketing? Passion, perseverance, collaboration, curiosity, resilience and creativity. What are you especially proud of during your career? I’ve worn a lot of different hats in my time at CJ and have been afforded the privilege of learning an immense amount about our technology, clients, company and industry. I began my career in our client support department, worked on the media team (buying ad space on MySpace!), launched our PayPerCall, Cross-Device and Cookieless Tracking solutions, Affiliate Incrementality study, Privacy solutions suite, among others, and most recently landed in my current position as the VP, Marketing, Product Marketing and Business Systems. I’m personally passionate about this industry and in my current role, I’m especially proud of the work my team and I get to showcase on a daily basis. It’s been really fun and exciting to continue to publish data-driven proof of the value the affiliate channel provides consumers, publishers and brands.

What stand out thing have you seen a brand do in affiliate marketing which you would recommend to others? We’ve seen brands shift more and more investment into their affiliate partnerships with some brands shifting 100% of their marketing dollars into the channel. This is a true demonstration of the value the channel delivers and our industry’s ability to weather any storm.

What’s your advice to women just starting out in affiliate marketing? Take your seat at the table and don’t be afraid to speak up. This is a wonderful industry that welcomes fresh perspectives and fosters growth. As long as you approach your work with curiosity, perseverance and creativity, the sky’s the limit!

What stand out thing have you seen an affiliate do which you would recommend to others?

Nicole Ron is Vice President, Product Marketing, Marketing and Business Systems at CJ Affiliate. FeedFront | June 2020 | No. 50

INSPIRING WOMEN IN THE AFFILIATE INDUSTRY

certain types of cookie-based tracking. Having been in this space for nearly 13 years, I’m confident that the industry will continue to align with consumer interests and that new innovations will continue to propel the industry forward.

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INSPIRING WOMEN IN THE AFFILIATE INDUSTRY

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THE IMPACT OF COVID-19 ON AFFILIATE MARKETING Alexandra Forsch, President, Awin US at Awin Global, on the state of affiliate marketing during a global pandemic. What made you want to be part of affiliate marketing? The pure performance model is so compelling, and in the time I’ve worked in affiliate marketing I’ve seen more and more advertisers embrace it. There’s something really fulfilling about watching a brand take their first steps then build out their campaigns, bringing on more and more publishers, building sophisticated and diverse programs, but all bound by the same payment on performance concept. While 2020 has proved hugely challenging for everyone, I really feel the affiliate channel has come into its own and will emerge as an even more important part of advertisers’ marketing mix. How has affiliate marketing changed over the past few years? As brands have invested more, they’ve diversified - expanding beyond standard affiliate relationships. There’s a greater willingness to see publishers as part of wider branding campaigns, which means the value of a publisher’s engagement with their users is better understood. In the past couple of years, large media houses, brand ambassadors, business development partners and technology solutions have recognized the opportunity affiliate marketing offers and in turn, improved the attractiveness of the channel resulting in greater brand investment. How will the COVID-19 impact on the industry in the long run? The depth of e-commerce reflected in affiliate marketing proves able to withstand the current crisis as publishers adapt quickly and follow succeeding sectors and brands. With consumer demand shifting from offline to online, our low risk compensation model already offers prime opportunity for new entries, which is demonstrated by a wide range FeedFront | June 2020 | No. 50

“Brands want sales out the door and money in the bank, and affiliate marketing offers them the ability to achieve this. ” of successful client launches in the midst of a crisis. Throughout COVID-19, and further accelerated by Amazon Associates looking to diversify following deep commission reductions, our platforms recorded exponential growth in publisher applications. With many of these being content in nature and ready to promote, brands already benefiting from a growing reach as we work to fast track approvals and further invest in tools and solutions supporting publisher activation. Brands want sales out the door and money in the bank, and affiliate marketing (with its direct connection with consumers) offers them the ability to achieve this. Are Awin and ShareASale taking any special considerations to support partners amidst the coronavirus crisis? Via ShareASale’s prefunded accounts and Awin’s traffic light payment system, our network affiliates have always benefitted from transparency regarding merchants who can readily pay commissions owed, which is now more critical than ever. At the onset of the pandemic specifically, we’ve also published a regularly updated list of programs impacted by the virus so publishers can make more informed decisions about who they promote at this time. Across Awin, we are expediting publisher approvals and making available

comprehensive onboarding materials (also available for our ShareASale affiliates) including a new product search functionality. Additionally, our coronavirus information hub aggregates educational resources, such as our industry sector performance tracker to guide publisher partnerships and promotions. Furthermore, this is where all partners have access to a series of insightful webinars hosted across our platforms in collaboration with our industry partners, designed to feature actionable advice and insights. Also, worth mentioning is our Champions series, which spotlights and celebrates all partners going above and beyond at a time in need. What are your expectations for the industry within the next 12 months? We have seen a huge uptick in publisher applications to the network, so much so that in the week following Amazon’s decision to cut commissions for their Associates’ program our publisher team processed more than 1.5 times as many requests to join the network. We will likely see a continued influx of publishers looking to work with a more diverse network of merchants and platforms, especially those previously focused solely on Amazon. That presents the most immediate opportunity, especially for brands who have been losing market share to Amazon for decades. These Amazon affiliates, and all affiliates for that matter, will put a greater emphasis on partnering with retailers who are ensuring full tracking measures are being used and are leveraging best-in-class technologies, like Awin’s Bounceless Tracking. While this has been of great importance for some time, as browsers and government regulators continue to limit cookie tracking and increase data privacy restrictions, it is even more critical now as the need for affiliates


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What stand out thing have you seen an affiliate do which you would recommend to others? The best affiliates are those that think outside of the box and innovate for both their retailers and audiences – offering merchants enhanced audience segmentation and strong user loyalty to leverage, offering readers unique and value-added product and service recommendations - for collective partnership success in the channel. I think it’s critical publishers are able to get in front of decision makers and tell a compelling story about customer engagement. If they can do that, that’s half the battle.

“Be agile. Affiliate marketing is a channel constantly evolving and innovating, you need to be able to adapt and react quickly as it’s never stagnant.” to overcome circumstances affecting their earnings increases. What do you see as the main challenges affiliates are going to have to overcome this year? While we have been able to work out flexible solutions with most advertisers, allowing to keep programs alive, we will continue to see temporary program pauses and commission reductions, particularly in sectors most effected (i.e. travel and entertainment). I also think we need to be mindful that we make partnering with brands as easy and seamless as possible, removing barriers and automating as much as we can so publishers are able to focus their energies on driving sales for advertisers. What stand out thing have you seen a brand do in affiliate marketing which

you would recommend to others? Simply put, merchants should always treat their publishers as valued partners – working closely, collaboratively, and ultimately fairly rewarding them for their efforts by ensuring their tracking is comprehensive and data-privacy compliant. Additionally, I would recommend that merchants embrace new sets of partners using different media including video. As an example, one of HP’s most compelling partnerships was their work with technology news and review site Digital Trends. With a website that reaches over 30m people worldwide and a social following of over 6m, they took a campaign-based approach that culminated in a featured spot on Digital Trends Live, its daily weekday interactive broadcast on the latest tech and product news. The six-fold month-on-month increase in sales was a testament to the

What are the most important personal qualities to being successful in digital marketing? Be agile. Affiliate marketing is a channel constantly evolving and innovating, you need to be able to adapt and react quickly as it’s never stagnant. Furthermore, despite this being a ‘digital’ marketing channel, put people first. This is a performance-based model that ultimately succeeds based on the strength of relationships. Much of your triumphs and tribulations will depend on the relationships you cultivate and the partnerships you build.

INSPIRING WOMEN IN THE AFFILIATE INDUSTRY

power of the channel.

What are you especially proud of during your career? There is a lot to be proud of but assembling and empowering a fantastic, highperforming team at Awin and ShareASale that is very engaged and delivers innovative and strategic solutions to our publishers, brands and agency partners, is something I am especially proud of. What’s your advice to women just starting out in affiliate marketing? Affiliate marketing is a great industry that offers many opportunities to women. Whether you’re looking to start a new career, develop a side hustle or make a name for yourself, this channel offers a level playing field, endless opportunity and lasting friendships.   Alexandra Forsch is President, Awin US at Awin Global. FeedFront | June 2020 | No. 50

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ADAPTING TO NEW CONSUMER BEHAVIORS Amber Paul and Lily Trevisanut on the future of affiliate marketing.

AMBER PAUL What made you want to be part of affiliate marketing? Affiliate marketing is an industry that is ever-evolving and the demand just continues to grow. It’s exciting, it’s fun, it’s challenging and it’s filled with so much talent. But, most importantly, there is absolutely no glass ceiling to stop you. How has affiliate marketing changed over the past few years? Dramatically! The barrier of entry into the affiliate marketing space used to be much lower, over a decade ago. As both the industry and technology have evolved, the barrier to enter, and the skill sets needed to succeed has risen. There’s a huge misperception that the affiliate marketing industry is easy, and while it is definitely a lucrative business, it still takes dedication, knowledge and marketing experiences and resources to get to the next level. How will COVID-19 impact the industry in the long run? We are extremely fortunate to be in an online and digital-heavy industry. In these last few months, we’ve already seen that the current pandemic is going to force traditional and brick-and-mortarstyle businesses (who have been against investing in their online dollars for some time now) to invest in online tools and initiatives in order to survive. I expect to see the greatest change in ecommerce – this is a sector that will have to adapt and become almost entirely online.

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What are your expectations for the industry within the next 12 months? I expect to see a lot of focus on performance marketing laws and regulations around the misleading of the user. I think these parameters will continue to tighten more and more. We’ve experienced much of this shift already, FeedFront | June 2020 | No. 50

“Network, network, network! I can’t stress enough the importance of building strong, solid relationships every chance you get” but I believe there will be heightened sensitivity around more truthful, tactical marketing. What stand out thing have you seen a brand do in affiliate marketing which you would recommend to others? What about a stand out thing from an affiliate? With the unprecedented times we’re all facing right now, what comes to mind immediately is the larger brands we’ve seen that have taken 10%, 15%, 20% from their marketing spend and give back to local hospitals, first responders, etc. Seeing major advertisers go out of their way to donate much needed medical supplies, or donate anything for that matter, is always inspiring. What are the most important personal

qualities to being successful in digital marketing? There are several key traits a professional should have in order to be successful in digital marketing. First, you need to have thick skin – to say this is a competitive space would be an understatement. Tenacity, drive and dedication are also qualities you need. Some days will fly by with ease, but others will be long, trying and test your resilience and ability to bounce back. Sometimes you may experience more failures than successes, this is when you need to channel your tenacity, your drive, and your dedication, to get yourself to the next level. Lastly, I would say you need to have a desire to keep learning. The digital marketing industry is constantly changing and we all need to continuously educate ourselves of the evolving standards, laws and techniques that affect us and our teams. What are you especially proud of during your career? I have experienced my share of challenges over the years. I’ve watched as businesses I respect and admire go from the highest to lowest point overnight. However, in every challenging situation I’ve found myself in, I’m particularly proud of my ability to bounce back no matter what. Doors have closed, but I have always been able to find a way to open new doors, and create new challenges for myself. In fact, it was a massive change in my previous position that led to me where I am today, as an executive team member for Digital Media Solutions (DMS) and a proud officer of Women of Martech, where I’m able to contribute to content curated to inspire, motivate and inform female professionals. What’s your advice to women just starting out in affiliate marketing? Network, network, network! I can’t stress enough the importance of building strong, solid relationships every chance you


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Amber Paul is Senior Vice President – Distribution at Digital Media Solutions.

LILY TREVISANUT What made you want to be part of affiliate marketing? My background in affiliate marketing started in finance, which really opened the doors to the best part of the industry - every day is different from the last. I find excitement in the daily variety and the challenge of developing new relationships, channels and verticals. How has affiliate marketing changed over the past few years? There’s been a real shift in focusing on affiliate and advertiser KPIs to extract opportunity. A few years ago, we’d have a single serving relationship - the campaign and traffic combination worked or it didn’t, then we move on to the next. Now, we’re focused on optimizations, right pricing, scale and longevity. It’s been a shift into sustainability. How will the COVID-19 impact on the industry in the long run? I think we’ll all be adjusting our expectations in performance and our mainstay verticals. The world is living in a

unemployed, and they’re browsing. Brands will need to adjust how their consumer flows to account for the general life distraction and provide adjusted services for the changes we’re currently seeing. What stand out thing have you seen an affiliate do which you would recommend to others? We’ve seen a lot of affiliates proactively optimizing their ads to improve engagement in a safe and scalable way. This road leads to sustainability and further growth once the world begins to stabilize.

“It’s okay to be your authentic self, to be confident and to go after your goals” time of uncertainty - from our personal health to the health of the economy, and this uncertainty demands flexibility. The industry is organically agile, so advertisers and affiliates, and especially networks, will need to keep their finger on the pulse to focus on the needs of consumers as the pandemic progresses. What are your expectations for the industry within the next 12 months? My expectations are that we’ll see a shift in the vertical focus as the economy adjusts to COVID-19, which will yield volume similar to what we saw during 2007 and 2009, and with that we’ll see an increase in regulatory scrutiny. What do you see as the main challenges affiliates are going to have to overcome this year? We’re already seeing this now, but affiliates will see a huge change in the engagement they had prior to the pandemic and it will take thinking outside of the box to recapture consumer engagement without being predatory. What stand out thing have you seen a brand do in affiliate marketing which you would recommend to others? The best thing I’ve seen our brand partners do this year is keep their eyes on consumer engagement - people are home or

What are the most important personal qualities to being successful in digital marketing? Without a doubt, being straightforward and honest and showing dedication to managing expectations are the keys to being successful in digital marketing. Everyone is looking for their desired result, and when you’re able to set expectations and focus on being reliable, you’ll succeed. What are you especially proud of during your career? Starting out as a credit clerk in the finance department and growing with the company to lead an incredible team has made me proudest. Our team has grit and I’m proud of all we’ve accomplished.

INSPIRING WOMEN IN THE AFFILIATE INDUSTRY

get. Somebody that you meet today may not present a new business opportunity, but there is always the possibility of partnerships with them months or years down the road. As a matter of fact, back in 2017 when I was working as an affiliate, there was a massive shift that happened overnight. Instead of accepting defeat, I immediately circle back to relationships I had previously established and was able to team up with my longtime contacts and friends for my next chapter in the affiliate marketing space. Establishing positive professional relationships is essential for career growth. For women who are trying to take the next step in their roles, joining Women of Martech can help them grow and nurture new connections. Women of Martech aims to provide female professionals in our industry a platform to build lasting bonds, to feel both supported and empowered.

What’s your advice to women just starting out in affiliate marketing? This is a male dominated business and it can be challenging - there’s this antiquated concept that women have to be meek or palatable to get ahead in business, especially in this industry. You don’t have to be quiet so someone else can be comfortable. It’s okay to be your authentic self, to be confident and to go after your goals. If you don’t, someone else will, so why not you? This inspiration and motivation is part of what unifies the members of Women of Martech. Our organization’s mission is to promote and amplify the experiences, contributions, successes, achievements and innovations of women in the martech industry, including affiliate marketing. Lily Trevisanut is SVP Operations at Digital Media Solutions. FeedFront | June 2020 | No. 50

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AFFILIATE MARKETING CRYSTAL BALL FOR THE NEXT YEAR Ami Spencer on Affiliate Challenges this Year. What made you want to be part of affiliate marketing? Similar to many other industry peers, I stumbled into affiliate marketing around 10 years ago. I had wanted to work in digital after leaving university but found myself stuck in a role in television production, which I quickly worked out wasn’t for me. After getting back on the hunt for a digitally focused position, I applied for an account exec role at Vouchercloud (it had all the right buzzwords and big brand names which was a big appeal for me). Although I had little knowledge on the channel, I somehow got through the challenging interview question, “Explain how the industry works,” and got offered the role. I haven’t looked back since. The people, the opportunities, the growth is all very enticing and makes affiliate marketing what it is today. How has affiliate marketing changed over the past few years? As a digital channel, affiliate marketing is now considered to be established and a reliable investment for digital directors. The resilience and adaptability of the industry is a big contributor to this. In the past few years we’ve seen a significant change in the way businesses can track consumers due to tightening privacy regulations, and the players within the channel have had to quickly adjust tracking methods to support this. Our channel has also supported many new innovative businesses on both publisher and advertiser sides. Across the publisher landscape we’ve seen completely new models, such as CSS and ML driven technology partners enter the space and drive huge levels of revenue for clients. At Webgains, we continue to see an increase in the number of publisher applications joining our network, often over 100 new publishers join per week and the mix of providers is always expansive. Webgains has also more recently seen a FeedFront | June 2020 | No. 50

higher number of unique start-ups launch affiliate programs, which suggests the channel is now more accessible than a few years ago. What are your expectations for the industry within the next 12 months? I expect there to be continued emphasis on working from home for many businesses, which naturally affects how we build relationships across the industry and ‘do business’. We’ve already seen some industry events being hosted virtually, and a focus on maintaining connections via digital meetings. At Webgains we’ve hosted ‘Publisher Presents’ sessions, affiliate days and workshops all via Microsoft Teams which allows us to continue to deliver the latest opportunities to partners. What do you see as the main challenges affiliates are going to have to overcome this year? As consumer behavior changes, affiliates will need to align their content and promotions accordingly. Being able to push the right products to the right customers from brands who are paying their invoices will be the ultimate test. Without saying too much, Webgains are working on a number of features to help support affiliates with this challenge which should be released later on this year.

What are the most important personal qualities to being successful in digital marketing? I would say being curious and the desire to never stop learning. This is something that we encourage at Webgains and is a trait we look for in anyone who joins us. Being curious means being hungry for new ideas, new partners and knowledge in the industry. It’s important for the channel because we want people to question, and to explore the newer opportunities as this is what will help innovate the channel. I think being curious also naturally helps people build their profiles in the industry and gives people a voice. What are you especially proud of during your career? I am proud to be COO at Webgains, and for the decisions I’ve made during my career to get here. I’ve worked hard to make the most out of any opportunity given; whether that’s been speaking at events, networking after a long day at work, or taking on more responsibility whenever I could. Promotions don’t just happen, you have to work hard and set yourself up in the best position for them. What’s your advice to women just starting out in affiliate marketing? My advice is for everyone, not just women, but I would encourage those new to the industry to listen, learn and have opinions. It’s not a big industry but building your personal profile and thought leadership is important. Being curious helps with this! Ami Spencer is Chief Operations Officer at Webgains.


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Goldie Chan, Founder of Warm Robots, on expectations for social media marketing trends.

What made you want to be part of digital marketing? I became a digital marketer almost by accident. I had run a fashion brand for two years and the first job I got after that was as a marketing assistant. The rest is history - as the youngest member on most marketing teams in Silicon Valley, I was often assigned to handle all of the social media strategy on the newest platforms. This meant that over my decade in digital marketing, I learned about every platform on the job, as soon as it was relevant (and sometimes before). It started a long love affair with digital marketing. How did you win a Linkedln Top Voice award and what advice would you give others striving for it? I won LinkedIn Top Voice for my insightful videos (longest running daily video channel) on marketing, branding and personal branding. I actually heard that I had won it while on stage giving a keynote about LinkedIn Influencers, so it was a lovely (and appropriate) surprise. I would advise others to start creating regular highquality, low sales content on LinkedIn. As you lead the longest running original daily video channel on Linkedln, what would be your top 3 tips for producing top-performing Linkedln videos? My top three tips are consistency, community and crazy. Let me clarify - the consistency to commit to creating video content regularly (and daily if that’s of interest). To also put out a consistent product that your community can enjoy. Which brings me to community - building a targeted community by focusing what you talk about in your content. And finally, crazy - having a bit of fun with your content and not taking it so seriously all the time.

What stand out thing have you seen a brand do which you would recommend to others? The Rock, as a fascinating personal brand, went from football to wrestling to acting in natural stages, maintaining his penchant for showmanship the whole time. This progression in his brand allowed him to keep his fans along on the journey of his brand.

What have been your biggest learnings from founding Warm Robots? Any new business has her ups and downs. To accept failure (and to learn from it) has been a helpful way of moving forward when things get tough. I love leading my current team but it took a lot of effort to find the right mix of people and to train them properly. A business is built on the right people for the right job. How is COVID-19 impacting on brands social media strategy’s? COVID-19 has irrevocably changed the landscape of social media for brands. What was an accurate plan in 2019 for 2020, no longer is valid as brick & mortars have (temporarily or permanently) shut down and consumer spending has drastically changed. What are your expectations for social media marketing trends within the next 12 months? It’s tough as we’re moving into new territory in 2020. As we think about Q2 and Q3 especially, both the US and global economy will be in a state of transition, slowly moving towards bigger spends on brand-building, creative work, and paid ad campaigns, she said. I do believe we will be on the road to recovery by Q4 of 2020.

What is the most important thing brands need to do in order to build a successful social media campaign? Brands right now need to be accessible from the (safety) of home - that means making sure they have social media campaigns that are purely online activations and that focus on engaging and distracting their audiences from what is happening. On the converse, campaigns that engage the giving back side of this time also do well.

INSPIRING WOMEN IN THE AFFILIATE INDUSTRY

COVID-19 HAS CHANGED THE LANDSCAPE OF SOCIAL FOR BRANDS

What’s your advice to people just starting out in the industry? One of the biggest pieces of advice is to volunteer to help. See a non-profit campaign that looks interesting? Volunteer to help. See a panel that needs more speakers? Volunteer to speak. The more you start by volunteering and building up your resume, the more work you will have under your belt before everyone in your cohort gets their first paycheck. Who’s your favorite marketer and why? I have quite a few favorite marketers so I’ll pick one to focus on here. Ann Handley is an amazing marketer and speaker who runs a terrific newsletter that she curates and sends out herself, focusing on trends and thoughts for the week. Goldie Chan is Founder of Warm Robots. FeedFront | June 2020 | No. 50

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LEGAL

MY MONEY’S ON SPORTS BETTING With legalized sports betting in many states, opportunities arise for affiliate marketers. Get in on the game, but don’t forget the regulatory hoops. Legal Requirements for Sports Betting Affiliates. By Nicole Kardell.

Everyone is looking for new ways to make money, now more than ever. Online sports betting may provide just the opportunity. Since May 2018, when the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a federal law that banned sports betting, almost three quarters of U.S. states have legalized sports betting or introduced legislation. For those that have not enacted laws, the time is ripe. Cash-starved states that need to make up for increased social program demands and major revenue shortfalls are more likely to turn to alternate cash sources like regulated online gaming and sports betting. You too can join the party. Sports betting affiliate programs are an important part of what makes online sports betting profitable for stakeholders. States with regulated sports betting know this, as do the sportsbook operators (not a small caveat: this is true where states allow competition and multiple operators). The path to the party is paved. To get in on the game, you will have to jump through a few regulatory hoops. You will need to meet the legal and regulatory requirements of your target states, which include licensing or registration with state gaming regulators. Each state has its own requirements. Here we outline requirements for two major players—New Jersey and Pennsylvania (similar to other states with mobile sports betting, e.g., DC, WV, IN, CO). Both states differentiate requirements based on revenue models: flat fee or revenue share. Revenue share arrangements require more regulatory oversight, paperwork and fees than do flat fee arrangements. (More detail from us at https://www.ifrahlaw.com/ ifrah-on-igaming/needs-license-online-sports-betting-gamingnew-jersey/ and https://www.ifrahlaw.com/ifrah-on-igaming/howto-ensure-your-media-affiliate-follows-pennsylvania-law/.)

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1. Flat Fee New Jersey maintains a vendor registration process that involves identifying a New Jersey-based casino partner, completing a vendor registration form (VRF), and submitting it to the state’s Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE). You then need to complete a supplemental disclosure form. Registration is valid so long as you continue to do business with the New Jersey-based casino (and you can use your registration to contract with other casinos without further filings). There are no associated filing fees. Pennsylvania has a Gaming Service Provider registration process that is comparable to New Jersey. But it requires a few more disclosures, personal information, and authorization for a background investigation. The process is overseen by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board, and includes an initial review, background investigation, and final approval. Licensing and registration fees start at $2500.

2. Revenue Share New Jersey requires you obtain an Ancillary Casino Service Industry Enterprise (ACSIE) license. The licensing process includes an extensive personal history disclosure. There are also filing fees, including a $2000 application charge. Pennsylvania requires you to undertake a Gaming Service Provider certification process. While less involved than New Jersey’s ACSIE application, it too requests personal disclosures such as criminal history, financial information, and a net worth statement. It also requests details on mental health and substance abuse. As with Pennsylvania’s registration process for flat fee arrangements, the application process involves an initial review, background investigation, and final approval. Fees start at $6500 for application and licensing. [FF]

Nicole Kardell is an attorney with Ifrah Law, a Washington, DC-based law firm. She represents clients in regulatory compliance matters, specializing in data privacy and cyber security. FeedFront | June 2020 | No. 50


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SEARCH

HOW TO LAND ON YOUR FEET AFTER THE CRISIS Julia Logan looks at how affiliates can use the hiatus to get their websites firing on all cylinders. Doing this will help them quickly recover profits once the situation starts to normalise.

Sports events across the world have been cancelled for the foreseeable future, causing the betting industry to stop in its tracks. Many operators are now switching to virtual sports and esports, but this is something that may not work for betting affiliates and their existing audience. For many affiliates, all they can do during this period of forced inactivity is wait for things to get back to normal so they can once again get back to doing what they do best: driving traffic and earning commissions. In the meantime, there are a few ways to ensure your site stands a good chance of recovering your profits once the pandemic passes. Some of these do not even require additional funding, something I’m sure many will appreciate in this time of reduced cash flow.

Do not forget to renew your domain and hosting With so many things going on at present, this is something that can slip through the cracks. Do bear in mind that a good domain is hard to recover once lost – let it drop and most likely it will quickly get registered by somebody else. And a site that’s been down due to unpaid hosting bills, even for just a few days, stands a higher chance of losing its rankings.

Carry out some essential site housekeeping Use this period of isolation to undertake some spring cleaning on your site. There are many things you can do to improve your web presence, including: 1. C  rawl the site with a tool such as ScreamingFrog or Sitebulb to help check there are no broken links or missing images. Fix anything that is missing.

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2. C  heck if your onsite navigation is consistent (for example, if your site’s home page canonical version is https://www.domain.com/, make sure all internal links point at this exact version). It’s sometimes difficult to control the external links to your site which may go to the wrong version of the URL (they may use http instead of https, or miss out the www, for example) but you have complete control over your own site and your internal links. Keeping your navigation (and external links, as much as you can) consistent helps get the most out of links and FeedFront | June 2020 | No. 50

“If you cannot allocate a budget for link-building due to reduced cash flow or lack of affiliate commissions, there are ways to get links for free” prevents diluting the link value. Sometimes cleaning the internal navigation and link structure alone can account for a measurable boost in a site’s organic visibility. 3. Do you have an online presence outside of your site, such as a Twitter account, YouTube channel or Facebook page? If so, do they link back to your site? Are these links consistent (see above)? Social media channels are some of the easiest links you can acquire for your site. They are also very controllable so make sure you get the most out of them. 4. A  re all of your affiliate links current and functioning? It sounds obvious that you need a working affiliate link to get your commission, but with all the constant changes on the operators’ and affiliate programmes’ side, things can break. Consequently, it’s best to double-check them. Talking of affiliate programmes, this may be a good time to touch base with your affiliate managers to see if they can offer you any new banners, exclusive bonus codes or valuable information once things return to normal. At the same time, check that the offers you are promoting are still active. 5. U  ndertake an extensive audit of all the content you have on your site. Does any of it need updating? Do you have any evergreen content or is there any evergreen content you may want to add to your site? Is all of your content still relevant, and if not does it need to be removed? What is the best way to remove or replace it so as not to confuse your site’s visitors? I spoke about the peculiarities of content audit for igaming sites a few years ago at one of the iGB Affiliate events. You can find the slide deck, which you may


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SEARCH

“Social media channels are some of the easiest links you can acquire for your site. They are also very controllable so ensure you get the most out of them” find useful for this task, here: https://www.slideshare.net/ irishwonder/content-audit-for-igaming-bac2017. 6. I f you haven’t yet tried your hand at various social media platforms, now is a good time to start. Use the lockdown to learn to make videos, think about Twitter strategy and improve your Facebook page. You can also think about the best content to share on these platforms. Once full betting activity resumes, these will become additional sources of traffic for you and will give you a new audience. Social media sites are great sources of free links for your site – but do bear in mind point three! 7. I f possible, do not stop acquiring links for your site as consistent link building is important to keep and strengthen your rankings – and clearly you will want these links once everything is back to normal. If you cannot allocate a budget for link building due to reduced cash flow

or affiliate commissions, there are ways to get links for free: do another site owner a favour in exchange for a link, or see if any journalists want to write about a topic related to your site in return for providing a link. It doesn’t even have to be a betting-related article. For example, if a mainstream media journalist is researching how the current crisis affects self-employed people, you may want to offer your take in exchange for a credit or mention in the article (“Matt Jones, who runs a sports betting site at…”). But do make sure they link – those pesky journalists can be very greedy when it comes to links these days! 8. F  inally, if you were considering a site redesign and have the budget, now is a good time to tackle it. You will be able to dedicate your full attention to the task, test things out and fix any issues before you need to be active again and dealing with your usual betting traffic. If you need to hire a web designer or developer for the job, they will only thank you for it as many businesses are currently finding it hard to keep spending on the same level. As you are no doubt aware, some are cancelling contracts or postponing jobs and your web designer or developer may have lost a few of their clients. To sum up, stay home, stay safe and work on your site! Remember: this crisis will end some day and things will get back to normal. [FF]

Julia Logan is an SEO consultant at irishwonder.com. Her specialities include onsite/technical SEO and SEO security audits, link profile audits, online reputation management, negative SEO investigations and private network consulting. FeedFront | June 2020 | No. 50

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SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETING

YOUR GREATEST SALES FORCE DURING COVID-19

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Social media is the premier ground for peer-to-peer marketing during COVID19. By Melissa Salas

More and more product or service recommendations are happening across your customers’ and employees’ preferred social networks during quarantine. For Marketers, you now have a way to build communities, reach new audiences, measure, reward, and respond to word-of-mouth conversations during this time. 79% of people say UGC highly impacts their purchasing decisions, yet only 13% said content from a brand is impactful and a mere 8% said professional influencer-created content would highly impact their purchasing decision. (Source: SocialMediaToday.com) Since people listen more to their social connections (those they trust) than to official marketing campaigns, brands can increase content engagement by as much as 700x and brand awareness by as much as 24x. Employees have the most credible voices in your organization. According to the Deloitte Millennial Survey, millennials will constitute 75% of the global workforce by 2025. That is 75%! And they are all on social media. Employee advocacy results in a 5x increase in web traffic and 25% more leads. With many store employees out of work right now, this is a great way to support and invest in your staff as your greatest sales force. Would you agree you have spent more time on social than ever before during quarantine? You are not alone. TechCrunch validates that millions of consumers are flocking to their social channels to stay connected with friends, families, and favorite brands. In fact, traffic to ecommerce sites from social channels grew by 41% in Q1. I agree with Salesforce, social platforms are the virtual shopping malls of 2020, but given the absence of physical contact, it is the only way for brands to deliver experiences and gather social responses simultaneously in a digital channel. As social becomes our main line of contact to the outside world, the place where we go for connection, education and entertainment, the time is now to allow your customers and employees to drive your brand story in social.

Gone are the days of measuring social success by just followers and likes. Think about the production value of owned UGC produced, branding, the targeted “look-a-like” reach, the number of new weekly pieces of content (testimonials, how-to videos, product reviews, tutorials, etc) engagement, percentage of orders from social referred channels and conversion rate of sales driven by customers and employees. On average, peer-to-peer social media conversion rates are around 10-12% (source: Indi. com). Brands need their most loyal individuals, their customers and employees, more than ever to advocate for their brand on social, the most powerful peer-to-peer platform, where everyone working from HOME and otherwise are turning for information and education. [FF]

Melissa Salas is Senior Director of Marketing for Indi.com with 20 years Affiliate and Video Marketing experience. FeedFront | June 2020 | No. 50


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GEN Z: KEEPING UP WITH THE SOCIAL MEDIA GENERATION

Authenticity is King

Which social media sites are Hot or Not?

As the balance swayed into hyper-curation with Millennial influencers using apps upon apps to edit the perfect photo, craft the perfect caption, and emulate the perfect image, Gen Z’s have swung the pendulum to the other extreme. Raw, honest, unfiltered content is what this generation wants to see. An era of overmarketing and “fake news” has made it hard to know what’s real or not. All they want to feel is that they’re being spoken to without an agenda. Tossing a negative note into a sea of positive commentary won’t damage your brand—it will humanize it. Micro-influencer marketing is a very successful strategy to target Gen Z’s and relate to them in a less contrived way.

• •

Gen Z is Non-Binary and Uber-Inclusive Gen Z does not see a world of black in white but believes everyone is allowed to exist in their own shades of gray. Outdated societal stigmas on race, gender, sexuality, and religion will not be carried on by this generation. They’ve grown up in an age where a black man was President, same-sex marriage was legal, and social causes such as #BlackLivesMatter and #MeToo are in the public eye. They are vocal about their beliefs and want the brands they support to be too. Inclusive and diverse marketing campaigns resonate with them and gain their trust. Simple adjustments like using genderneutral pronouns, designing unisex clothing options, and having diverse brand reps will appeal to Gen Z.

Youtube: The hottest, in fact, as the most visited social channel for Generation Z. Snapchat: Hot. As I mentioned, raw and authentic social media platforms are thriving. And as we know, videocentric platforms are the future. Instagram: Hot. Instagram’s Story feature, IGTV video hosting, and constantly changing newsfeed keeps Gen Zs engaged, and more than half of Gen Z check the app daily. Facebook: Not. Though it’s community features and Facebook groups are somewhat popular, they seem to be the only reason Gen Z logs on anymore. They don’t tend to browse long enough on Facebook to be influenced by ads. TikTok: Extremely hot. TikTok seems to garner more popularity with each day, especially during the COVID-19 lockdown, and especially amongst Gen Z who seem to lead the platforms many trends and uses. [FF]

SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETING

It’s a challenge marketing to Generation Z, an age group seemingly born with a cellphone in hand and a social media handle on their birth certificate. Learn how to navigate marketing to the newest generation. By Gabby Beckford

With Gen Z, it’s Ethics or Bust Gen Z’s are also the self-proclaimed “woke” generation. They don’t invest money into products or services that don’t align with their values. We consider company ethics when purchasing any products which can include worker labor conditions, animal welfare (animal testing, animal products, etc.), environmental impact. Cancel culture is a terrible habit of this generation but it also shames them into positive courses of action.

Gabby Beckford is the Gen Z digital storyteller behind PacksLight.com and Founder of the Young Travelers Network.

FeedFront | June 2020 | No. 50

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STRATEGY

OPTIMIZE YOUR CAMPAIGNS FOR PROFITABILITY To run a profitable campaign, you need the gains to outweigh the costs you invested to get there. This comes down to having clear goals, ways to measure against those goals and having the ability to optimize and get creative as you run your campaign. By Julia Wild

Affiliates come in all shapes and sizes, specialize in a range of niche subject areas and use a variety of marketing tactics to grow their businesses. What they share is their performance-based revenue models, which means taking on greater risk upfront for the potential increased return based on results. This makes campaign profitability an even more important factor to your business as an affiliate. In looking to run a profitable campaign, you want the outcome to outweigh the costs, which means finding the right mix of tactics for your business that ultimately results in revenue. To do this, there are four key variables to consider that can help you on your path towards profitability.

One: Have clear goals

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Have you ever used a GPS to get somewhere without entering the destination? If you did, you likely created more of a challenge for yourself. The same is true of your goals. Having a clearly defined, realistic goal is the first step towards achieving it. The good news is the journey to that goal (or destination) can take many different shapes and forms and an important consideration is understanding what resources you have at your disposal to get there. These resources likely include your skill base, available time, capital, and/or team. All of which can impact your profitability. Here are some examples of clear, measurable goals for campaigns that can all impact profitability: • Grow impression count of content by X% (brand awareness) • Achieve X newsletter sign-ups (building community) • Achieve X click-throughs (engagement) • Convert X customers (revenue) • Increase conversion rate by X% (optimization) For those with limited capital and more time; you may choose to invest more heavily in targeted content to achieve greater exposure on search engines. In other cases, you may have capital on your hands and are looking for a quicker path to growth with lower profit margins but larger gain in audience that you can then convert later. You want these goals to be easily measurable so you can understand how they impact your profitability. FeedFront | June 2020 | No. 50

Two: Understand your metrics of success Once you have clearly defined your goals, you need to understand how to measure their success. These metrics should tie directly back to your goals and give you a clear understanding of whether you are on the path to profitability. Some example metrics related to the above goals are: • Impression count and CPM (cost per thousand impressions) • Conversion rates to sign up • Cost per click (CPC) and click-through rates • Application to approval rates • Growth in conversion rate We asked Andrew Schrage, CEO of Moneycrashers.com, how he uses metrics to measure profitability. He explains, “In order to successfully optimize an affiliate marketing campaign for profitability, it really all comes down to data analysis. You need to know what the profit margin is for each type of sale, what it costs to make an acquisition, the value of both new and repeat customers, and the lifetime value of your customers.” This means if you are looking at growing your newsletter database, is your click-through rate sufficient for what you invested in exposure? Is the cost per click you invested profitable for the customers you have acquired and are those the types of customers that will actually convert? Asking these questions will help guide you in understanding how to test and adapt your strategies.

Three: Know what to do with the data you have collected Once you have a clear picture of your goals and how your campaigns are performing against them, the next step is refining your strategy to optimize your results. You may have found a paid search strategy that has been a bit more expensive but brought you customers that are converting. You may choose to adjust your focus to this tactic to try and bring that cost down, while still targeting that same customer base. There may be a specific brand that you have partnered with to promote that is resulting in a high conversion or approval rates compared to some others. You can shift your focus to showcase this brand more while the conversions continue to result in higher payouts. A gain, adjusting your strategy comes down to the resources


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STRATEGY

“Having a clearly defined and realistic goal is the first step towards achieving it”

you have at your disposal and what profitability looks like for you.

Four: Get creative Finally, don’t be scared to get creative with your marketing tactics. Some of the most effective and profitable campaigns can come from using unique approaches to growing traffic, creating stickiness with your audience and converting them to sales. For example; Russ Nauta of creditcardreviews.com explains the importance of strategy and investing upfront when looking to invest in a campaign. Nauta recently used his vacation to his advantage to prepare for a creative campaign. He explains, “I did a survey of US tourists on a Caribbean beach during the summer asking about their spending behavior for their trip. It was for a credit card website with the goal being to see which types of cards people were using. I divided the project into six different parts: I created a survey, distributed it and then collected the survey resultsFrom that I was able to analyze the data, create a write-up of findings,

create an infographic, publish it and then launch the campaign to promote the product.” According to Nauta, the campaign was successful from a financial standpoint with a substantial amount of residual value, and he attributed this to having a clear plan and staying the course.

Key takeaway Ultimately, in running a profitable campaign, you want the gains to outweigh the costs you invested to get there. This comes down to having clear goals, ways to measure against those goals, and having the ability to optimize and get creative as you run your campaign. What works for some may not work for others – only you know your business and what works best for you. As long as you keep these key factors in mind, you will be well on your way to running consistently profitable campaigns to grow your business. [FF]

Julia Wild is Marketing Director at Fintel Connect, a performance marketing company dedicated to financial services. FeedFront | June 2020 | No. 50

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STRATEGY

HOW TO MAKE MILLIONS FROM COMMERCE CONTENT Top publishers make 25% of their revenue from commerce content, which translates into millions of dollars every year. The key is knowing how to scale. How To Make Millions From Commerce Content By Lauren Newman.

Commerce content is an attractive investment for publishers. It monetizes the advisory role they’ve traditionally played in people’s lives and unlike other revenue streams enables them to generate revenue without compromising their editorial experience. The key challenge is finding the path to scale. So we’ve distilled our expertise - from helping 60,000 publishers around the world create commerce content day-in-day-out - to help you understand how you can make millions from commerce content.

Write about more than one merchant Publishers should write about a diverse portfolio of merchants. It provides a better experience for readers, with more options to choose from and it also performs better. Articles with multiple links generate 2X greater revenue than articles that focus around a single product. We’ve also seen publishers that become too reliant on any one merchant lose out when that merchant cuts their commission rates. From an authenticity perspective, it also makes sense to write about multiple merchants, as readers become skeptical of recommendations if they only see commerce editors write about one brand. To best engage your audience and have the best chance of success, writing about multiple merchants is a must.

continue generating revenue for years to come. Once publishers have a strong foundation of evergreen content, as they hire more commerce editors, they can grow production to include more timely pieces. The average publisher reaches a tipping point once they have a team of 5 editors that write 5 articles a day. With total production of 500 pieces per month, commerce revenue really begins to grow.

Focus on the key ecommerce metrics A single view of your data is invaluable. To successfully scale commerce content, you need all your ecommerce performance data in one place which will enable you to optimize. With this data you can understand the merchants your audience loves and the kind of articles that will perform well. Earnings-perclick (EPC) is the key metric to look at: It helps publishers understand how much they can make per link from a merchant and lead them to optimize on that basis. Commission rate matters – publishers need to link to merchants with high rates to scale – but publishers also need to ensure they feature brands that their audience will buy from and that drive high order value. This is key to long-term success. [FF]

Start with evergreen content Established publishers can find a commerce angle on most trending topics. For newcomers though, we recommend a focus on timeless evergreen pieces that won’t age rapidly. These are the backbone of most publishers’ commerce revenue: 50% of publishers’ revenue comes from articles published in the previous year, and 65% of quarterly evergreen revenue comes from articles published in past quarters. Evergreen pieces typically focus on buying guides for everyday essentials, like jeans or bedding, and need only to be updated periodically to

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Lauren Newman is Senior VP Revenue US for Skimlinks. She leads publisher and merchant relations. FeedFront | June 2020 | No. 50


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GROWTH AND SOLUTIONS IN FINTECH

What are the Market Development trends? It is not a secret that in recent years we have seen a rapid emergence of various business-models, which disrupt the traditional ones in a very bold way. We have also seen the tech response to that when it comes to financial solutions with the emergence and development of FinTech companies. But. Not many people talk about the widening gap between the traditional high-street banking solutions and the services they are providing, and the FinTech businesses. So how can industries develop and prosper if the ease of doing business, despite innovation boosts, does not?

What kind of Banking Problems the online industries face? The answer is simple. Merchant’s main problem is that their business models and core activities are not understood in detail by the financial industry. They struggle to bridge the widening gap in that context which results in major lags in their overall business development processes.

What are the Business Challenges? High-risk. And that term can be easily and incorrectly migrated to various verticals in various industries and indeed applied to various business aspects. All that however rooted down to the financial services and payment solutions facilities provided by high-street banks. It became more and more obvious that merchants with expanding business operations need trusted and professional banking solutions as part of their growth processes and the B2B ecosystem advancements. Another issue with is of huge importance to the online merchants is related to time-efficiency in the context of the services delivery. The secret to good comedy and good business is one – timing! And many businesses struggle to make their audiences “laugh and cheer”.

Another existing and arising in recent years challenge is related to companies operating in the so-called higher-risk industries. They tend to need a solution that can offer them multiple IBANs as per their requirements of their specific business model and of course for risk diversification purposes. Something any business would plan for.

STRATEGY

What does it take to bridge the financial services gap for the online industries? By Lilia Metodieva

What’s the Solution? FinTech. One may say. But what really is FinTech nowadays? Can we really say that the challenges addressed above have found their solutions? After all you would definitely agree that when we talk about money, it all comes down to safety, security, and trust.

Monneo. Business Unlimited. We work with clients operating with EEA incorporated companies. Monneo have an established network of partnerships with leading European-based banks. Our core service holds a main focus on the Virtual IBANs and digital payments solutions for online merchants and B2B businesses. We understand well all the above-covered points and have strong business expertise in the domains our clients operate in (e.g) companies defined as continuity merchants (subscription-based business models), online dating merchants, advertising services, affiliates, eCommerce, etc. Many online merchants have already chosen our reliable and flexible solutions in the digital payments industry over the conventional ones offered by traditional high street banking. If you are interested to learn more about how Monneo can help your business with our digital payment solutions contact us or directly apply for your virtual IBAN account on our official website. [FF]

Lilia Metodieva, Head of Business Development at Monneo, Lilia is a highly experienced expert with 15 years in the online payments industry

FeedFront | June 2020 | No. 50

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TECHNOLOGY AND INNOVATION

HOW TO BUILD A FINTECH REWARDS PROGRAM Rewards programs are a way for fintech companies to habituate users to visit their apps more frequently. Read what apps should consider when starting out. By Sarah Moshel

The fintech space is growing quickly. In 2018 alone, fintech apps were downloaded 3.4 billion times. But more demand means more apps, more competition. Because of this, fintech companies are eager for ways to differentiate themselves, giving their users reasons to come back to their apps as often as possible, and increase revenue.

There are many ways to run marketing campaigns. One of our UK fintech partners does this well. When users open the app’s main tab, one of the first things they see is offers from partner brands. The company also uses push notifications, email, and social media to feature partners and inform users about new offers.

Enter rewards programs — a way to habituate users and give them reasons to visit your app more frequently. In the fintech context, financially-savvy users shop with partner brands in your app and save money through cash back — that incentivizes users to return for more offers tailored to their needs. Here are things fintech apps should consider when starting out.

Know your resource constraints

Align your strategy with your goals A rewards program is going to take on different forms depending on what you’re optimizing for. Some fintech companies look to rewards programs as a new revenue stream; in contrast, other fintech companies want to build commerce into their apps not to make money, but rather, to convince their users to engage with their apps more often. If you care about loyalty, your KPIs are going to be repeat purchase rate and a lift in user engagement. If you care about revenue, you’re going to focus on conversion and order rate. These decisions will define how the program is rolled out, including which user groups should be targeted, which partners and offers are chosen, and where the program is located in your app.

Companies that set out to start their own rewards programs often find that they are hard to start and maintain. Here are three areas to consider: • Technical constraints. Working with a brand partner can involve weeks of technical integration and data source reconciliation. That can be a significant undertaking for companies with smaller tech teams. • Maintaining brand partnerships. Offering rewards from multiple partners requires building relationships, maintaining relationships, and negotiating rates with multiple partners. • Managing trade-offs. A rewards program isn’t something you can “set and forget.” Running them requires that product managers make trade-offs between making their apps as good as possible, while dealing with the day-today requirements of running a rewards program. By honing in on your goals, marketing tactics, and resources at hand, you’ll be in a better position to consider launching a rewards program for your fintech app. [FF]

Make sure your users know your program and offers One of the biggest advantages fintech apps have when starting rewards programs is knowing where users spend their money. They’re in a powerful position to sign deals with relevant partners that they know users will engage with, and it’s important to make that relevance clear to users.

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Sarah Moshel is the Director of Publisher Success at Button, a mobile commerce technology company. FeedFront | June 2020 | No. 50


@feedfront | www.feedfront.com

THE ECONOMY CRUMBLED. WHAT CAN I DO NOW?

For those of us who were already 100 percent working online, our work environments remained the same although new business has dwindled. Unfortunately, one of my clients I consult for went out of business overnight because they are connected to sports. During the great 2008 recession in the US, I found myself in a similar situation and nearly out of business. The dire economic situation forced me to find another way to earn money. To pivot, I developed a list of things people were willing to spend money on when money is tight. Data showed that anything that provides an escape from the stress of their current reality was the last to get cut. To make it happen, I had to scramble to understand a marketing channel, repurpose skills, quickly revamp a website, and establish the necessary business relationships. After that figure out how to market it. As you know, it’s not that simple and definitely not easy in a recession. But that folks, is how I got into affiliate marketing. I sold concert, sport, and theater tickets as an affiliate. It was rough. My sister gave daily pep talks. She said that once there was one sale, the path to scaling would appear. With persistence, it happened. We survived and in time, earned more than before the recession. Affiliate marketing led to the best years of my career. It also afforded me lifelong friendships. A transition to event ticketing isn’t going to work this time. For the sports centric client, we developed a list of content marketing topics to engage clients’ interest and make some sales. During initial weeks, they were still reeling but now are moving forward. They certainly aren’t earning what they were, but it will help them survive. This can work as an additional revenue strategy when sports return too.

People are working and schooling from home now. The entertainment need still applies but, in this downturn, people are flocking to a different version of escapism. Streaming services like Netflix and online games are experiencing record use. Traditional forms of entertainment like puzzles and board games are in demand too, Years ago, I diversified. My newer cyber security business got a bit lucky with the increased demand for security apps for the new remote workforce. When the economy has crumbled, summon all your business skills. You know how to reach your customers - they are online all day long now. You may find new products or new ways to deliver old ones. Adjust who your target audience is and identify their needs Most importantly, you need to reach people who can afford to buy from you. With some research, creativity, and a lot of flexibility you can pivot back to profitability. [FF]

Michelle is an author and digital marketing consultant who blogs on PinTalk.net and owns AskCyberSecurity.com FeedFront | June 2020 | No. 50

TECHNOLOGY AND INNOVATION

No one needs another summary on the state of our global economy. If a brick-andmortar location was your only way to sell, then you may have found yourself closing the doors and wondering if you’ll ever recover. By Michelle Held

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FeedFront Magazine Issue 50  

FeedFront Magazine Issue 50